Kári Gíslason

Kári Gíslason

Kári Gíslason teaches creative writing and literary studies at Queensland University of Technology. His book The Promise of Iceland was published by University of Queensland Press in 2011. His last book, co-authored with Richard Fidler, was Saga Land: The Island of Stories at the Edge of the World.

Kári Gíslason reviews 'In the Land of the Cyclops' by Karl Ove Knausgaard

August 2021, no. 434 28 July 2021
Kári Gíslason reviews 'In the Land of the Cyclops' by Karl Ove Knausgaard
Once, during a teaching exchange in Germany, I found myself learning as much from my students as I was trying to teach them. This is not unusual. Delivering my thoughts to others, and then having them modified during discussions, helps me to understand what I want to say. By the end of the class, I begin to see what I probably should have known from the start. On this particular occasion, I was t ... (read more)

Kári Gíslason reviews 'Aftershocks: Selected writings and interviews' by Anthony Macris

March 2020, no. 419 28 February 2020
Kári Gíslason reviews 'Aftershocks: Selected writings and interviews' by Anthony Macris
At the beginning of this wide-ranging collection of criticism by the novelist, critic, and academic Anthony Macris, the author notes wryly that an early candidate for the book’s title was Personality Crisis, such is its diversity of topics and styles. The implication here is that reviews and essays form a kind of autobiography. I’m not sure I would use the word ‘crisis’ to describe it, but ... (read more)

Kári Gíslason reviews 'Henrik Ibsen: The man and the mask' by Ivo de Figueiredo, translated by Robert Ferguson

September 2019, no. 414 27 August 2019
Kári Gíslason reviews 'Henrik Ibsen: The man and the mask' by Ivo de Figueiredo, translated by Robert Ferguson
One of the strongest markers of identity in my birthplace, Iceland, is the idea of independence. The country takes great pride in how it reacquired full independence from Denmark in 1944; one of the main political parties is called the Independence Party, and the most famous Icelandic novel is Independent People by Halldór Laxness. Being an independent-minded person is seen as a defining quality. ... (read more)

Kári Gíslason reviews 'Scandinavians: In search of the soul of the North' by Robert Ferguson

September 2018, no. 404 06 December 2017
Kári Gíslason reviews 'Scandinavians: In search of the soul of the North' by Robert Ferguson
When I was twenty-seven, I visited mainland Scandinavia for the first time. I had spent the last of my travel money on a rail pass, and I was on a tight budget. One day, I thought I would save some money on accommodation by catching an overnight train from Stockholm to Trondheim. When I woke up the next morning, I disembarked and went for an aimless walk, but eventually I had to ask for directions ... (read more)

Kári Gíslason reviews 'Farewell to the Father' by Tim Elliott

September 2016, no. 384 22 August 2016
Kári Gíslason reviews 'Farewell to the Father' by Tim Elliott
One of the claims that is sometimes made for the memoir form is that it gives the author a degree of release from the past. Getting it down on paper can also be about getting it out – perhaps even out of the way. The title of Tim Elliott's memoir, Farewell to the Father, suggests that this may have been the goal here; that Elliott, in telling his story, would be able to farewell a man who, we le ... (read more)

Reading Australia: 'Romulus, My Father' by Raimond Gaita

Reading Australia 31 March 2015
In a critical moment of reflection and pause, Romulus, My Father offers the reader a key to its interpretation. The author – philosopher Raimond Gaita – tells us that ‘Plato said that those who love and seek wisdom are clinging in recollection to things they once saw’. This reference to the Greek philosopher’s work Phaedrus occurs when the boy Raimond is about eight years old. He seems a ... (read more)

Kári Gíslason reviews 'Hans Christian Andersen: European witness' by Paul Binding

September 2014, no. 364 01 September 2014
Kári Gíslason reviews 'Hans Christian Andersen: European witness' by Paul Binding
How a writer bears witness to his age is necessarily the expression of many things, not least the possibly quite peculiar nature of an author’s life. Literary works often emerge from complex upbringings, from periods of youthful isolation spent reading and writing. More still seem to have been written as a result of the fraught relationships that befall authors, perhaps because authors so often ... (read more)

Tess the obscure

May 2014, no. 361 30 April 2014
Tess the obscure
While it may not be a novel’s main purpose, certainly one of its pleasures can lie in how it witnesses the history of the form itself. All novels reveal something of the genealogy from which they emerge, their debt to past traditions and ways of storytelling. Rather as is the case with families, sometimes the further back you go the more striking the resemblance becomes. Robert Hillman’s Joyf ... (read more)

Kári Gíslason reviews 'His Stupid Boyhood: A memoir' by Peter Goldsworthy

December 2013–January 2014, no. 357 13 November 2013
Kári Gíslason reviews 'His Stupid Boyhood: A memoir' by Peter Goldsworthy
Italo Calvino once observed that the ideal condition for a writer is ‘close to anonymity’, adding that ‘the more the author’s figure invades the field, the more the world he portrays empties’. These comments about anonymity were made during an interview on Swiss television, no less. Calvino must have felt his imaginary worlds slipping away as he spoke. What, then, is the place of the wr ... (read more)

Kári Gíslason reviews 'A History of Silence' by Lloyd Jones

October 2013, no. 355 25 September 2013
Kári Gíslason reviews 'A History of Silence' by Lloyd Jones
When Mark Twain arrived in Watsons Bay in 1895, he called out from his ship that he was going to write a book about Australia. ‘I think I ought to start now. You know so much more of a country when you haven’t seen it than when you have. Besides, you don’t get your mind strengthened by contact with the hard facts of things.’ I expect it’s an injustice to Twain to explain his joke, but on ... (read more)
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